I met Mo Welch on Instagram right after I moved to LA. She invited me to a gay bar and we both drank water. That was the beginning of a beautiful, deep, creative friendship. We would sit in office chairs and talk about our shitty relationships, weirdo pasts, dreams, goals, and ideas. We decided somewhere in all the tears and gabbing we wanted to write together, so we just did it. We wrote a web-series, sent it off to Tello and… they made it happen. They just, they said “yes” and MADE IT.
PLUS ONE follows a group of friends as they fall in love and fall out of sync. Alex, a walking lesbian stereotype, and Kate, a jokester looking for love exclusively online, help each other navigate through self created drama. Ben and Holly start a new relationship but it’s clear Holly is horny for another. They also lol throughout the process. Written by and starring Dannielle Owens-Reid and Mo Welch. Produced by tello.
We went from crying in Mo’s Echo Park studio (slash garage) to getting paid for starring in a web-series that we also wrote. I don’t know how we did it, but we did, and it was the fucking best. So, I interviewed her about it. Here you go.
Dannielle Owens-Reid: What was your favorite part of working with me?
Mo Welch: Well, my favorite part of working with you was the ease. We just had a plan to tackle each episode one at a time, and it was the easiest writing situation that I’ve ever been a part of. As far as production, it was so fun because we could improvise our scenes together — we trust each other to improvise.
DOR: Yeah, absolutely. I feel like we wrote the script with us in mind as those two characters [Alex and Kate], so the scenes that we wrote the best were the ones with us in it. And then we already knew we would be good at acting those scenes, because it was just us in real life. Well, sort of.
MW: Writing for yourself can be so easy! Writing the other characters is more difficult, and when you don’t see it happening the way that you thought it was going to, you just have to be like “Oh right, now this actor takes on this role and they get to do what they want with it.”
Luckily we knew Alana was going to be Barb, Briana would be Clarissa, and Nnamdi would be Ben. It’s easy when you’re working with your friends.
DOR: Daniela — who plays Holly, your/Alex’s love interest — was basically the only person that we didn’t know beforehand. What was it like to integrate her?
MW: I would like to know how it was for her! She told us that it was super nerve-wracking to begin with, but I think the first day we made her feel comfortable. One thing that was definitely uncomfortable was that our very first scene together was a kissing scene. Daniela and I didn’t know each other at all, and all of a sudden I had to kiss her. That was fucking weird.
DOR: Do you know that my first scene with Daniela was also a kissing scene? Because there’s a part where I kiss her (spoiler!) for a joke or whatever, but it was the very first thing that we shot.
MW: You can probably see how sweaty and red in the face I was, because I’m not like… A first kiss in real life is hard enough for me, and then a first kiss on camera! So fucking uncomfortable.
DOR: Was there anything about the process that was unexpected?
MW: Definitely that day where it was raining so hard and it was 100 degrees. It was so unexpected! I didn’t know that makeup could just melt off your face. What about you?
DOR: I think the part of it for me that was uncomfortable at first was the first day where everyone was kissing Daniela, they put a ton of makeup on me and I was so, so uncomfortable and I didn’t know what to do about it. But we were working with Tello, and they’re a queer company and most of the people — like Christin and Jess and Julie — are all queer. I felt weird, but I was like “Hey, can I wear less makeup? I feel really uncomfortable. It doesn’t align with who I am as a person and it freaks me out.” And everyone was really cool about it.
MW: And if you want to see that one scene where Dannielle has a ton of blue eyeliner, it’s the first scene of episode 5.
MW: We shot this a year ago, so what did you get from the process?
DOR: That’s a great question. We wanted to write something together, we came up with like eight ideas. And this was a pilot that you had already written and we were rewriting it for web and for Tello, and that’s all we knew. Is like, we were writing this small thing. And then the way that it happened is that they wanted to produce it, and we were like “Oh cool, we can’t wait to film this thing in LA with all of our friends and all of these locations that we’ve already thought about.” And they were like, “No, do it in Chicago and we can film it and edit it and it will be much easier. And we were like, “Oh!” and we had to rethink everything. And I wasn’t super sure of anyone’s role, so we didn’t know necessarily what to do. And we obviously pulled it together and it’s amazing and we did a great job, and Tello did a wonderful job. But I think having a clear picture of things — it really helped me in a producer sense from the beginning, to be like “OK, what’s the picture here and how do we follow through with it?” rather than just fly by the seat of your pants and hope that all goes well. Which thank god it worked out for this, but it was still scary to not know what was going on the whole time. I don’t know. What about you?
MW: I think a lot of people have like 800 ideas in their head, and they’re waiting for the opportunity to bring them to a bigger stage. I’m trying to have 800 ideas and then get a couple of those out there every single year. Because maybe in a couple years, I’m going to be so embarrassed at the way I kiss on film, or any of the mistakes I’ve made in other projects and this project. But the important thing is that we wrote something, we finished it, and we executed it with the help of Tello. And I think that’s the biggest learning point for me always, is like, I finished something.
DOR: Is there anything that you would change?
MW: Well, I pigeonhole myself in everything that I play — everything I’m hired to play is so zany and so comedic. So in this project, I was like, what would it be like to be kind of like a deadpan girl? Somebody that I probably wouldn’t even be friends with, in some aspects. Although it seems like besides the whole Ben thing, she’s a good friend to Kate.
It’s not that I would change this, but I think if we continued the project, I would lighten up more and probably have Alex match Kate’s energy a little more, because Alex can be kind of a bummer. And I think if she were a real person, she would need to evolve into a better person in order for people to want to watch.
DOR: It’s true. I guess it’s all about the balance.
MW: Would you change your character at all?
DOR: I don’t think I would change my character. I think I would’ve changed the outfit I chose to wear on the day that we took promo photos.
MW: Oh, because the pants bagged right here?
DOR: Yeah, I don’t like where the pants bag. I just don’t.
MW: But in person they look great.
DOR: Yeah, they look really good. It just wasn’t a good vibe, you know?
MW: Yeah, everyone was talking about that online.
DOR: Everyone was like, that one pants bag area. Yeah, I don’t know if I would change anything about Kate. [cat meow] Hi, Janet.
MW: Janet has joined us.
DOR: I think one thing that I really like about our show is that we wrote it with lesbian satire in mind. Like we were totally making fun of the community almost, in the way that Kate’s character refuses to say that she’s in a relationship and Alex’s character is a like photographer named Alex. And everything that we were doing is with the intention of being this big stereotype, and it worked but also it’s unbelievably accurate. Unbelievably accurate.
MW: Yeah, it’s funny to see the satire also… I mean, if I were just watching it I wouldn’t really pick up that it’s satire in most ways because you just mold into that character and you’re like, this is what people are actually like.
DOR: And I think we forgot that it was satire when we were filming.
MW: We were just like I don’t know, lesbians have drama. That’s who our audience is.
DOR: Yeah, you’re right, you’re right.
MW: When you were a teenager, could you ever tell yourself, hey you’re going to be working… because you make an income on working on gay stuff and queer stuff. Would you be able to tell yourself, “Hey you’re going to be making a webseries and it’s going to be all gay all day”? You know what I mean? Isn’t that weird to think about?
DOR: It’s really weird. Well when I was a teenager — I was raised in South Carolina, didn’t even really know that gay was a thing. I think I knew that guys could be gay, but I never really thought about a girl being gay at all. And even past that, when I was in college and I figured it out or whatever you wanted to call it, I didn’t want gay to be a big part of my life. I didn’t want that to, I guess take away from the things that I was doing. And it has only added really cool shit to the things I’m doing. So it turns out that I was stupid then and I’m smart now. What about you?
MW: Well yeah, it’s the same thing. I always felt like, I’m not going to — like I used to turn down interviews in Chicago about gay stuff or for gay publications. Because I was like, I don’t want to pigeonhole myself into this gay world. And I knew a comic who was doing that and I was like, well it works for you because you have that haircut but maybe it won’t work for me. And then it slowly started happening and I’m like, wait, this is what I want to talk about and this is what I have to talk about because otherwise I’m talking about nothing onstage.
DOR: Totally. Yeah, even when I did start doing gay stuff, if someone had been like, “You are going to write a thing and it’s going to be fully produced and you are gonna star in it and it’s gonna be really good,” I would’ve been like, nah, I’m not that good. I don’t have the ability to do that. No one’s gonna help me do that.
MW: It’s so much easier when you’re playing a character that’s close to yourself.
DOR: That’s true.
MW: I want to write something and cast you as the most conservative, straight woman.
DOR: I did! I played Lisa Frank once. Remember?
MW: Is she conservative?
DOR: I don’t know. I don’t know.
MW: Those colors. She can’t be conservative.
DOR: Yeah, she can’t be that conservative.
MW: She’s a little bit queer with all the colors that she uses in her folders.
DOR: What has been the biggest change in your life since when we shot Plus One a year ago and since it’s aired?
MW: OK. I think when I wrote the pilot Borderline that this was loosely based off of… I was in a relationship when I wrote that. And then by the time we were shooting, my personal life was just off the chain. But it was really good for writing, you know? I think that that’s the biggest… I don’t know, is that where you’re going with it? I think the biggest thing is I was coming from a place… my last relationship, I remember when we wrote this script and we were both in relationships at the time. And she hadn’t read the script, but she was like “I’m not going to be okay with you kissing somebody else.” And I was like, “Yeah but it’s onscreen. I don’t care about these people.” And she was like, “That’s not going to happen.” And so luckily we fucking broke up before we went to go shoot.
DOR: Imagine they had to do like camera tricks around…
MW: Yeah, like “sorry my girlfriend is insecure.” Maybe we shouldn’t put that in there because I’ve talked about her enough.
DOR: Oh no.
MW: Yeah, I think that’s the biggest… and when we went to Chicago to film, I didn’t have a place and I was staying on Dannielle’s bed with her cat. So I decided we were gonna film that thing, I would stay in Chicago until I got my shit together. So I stayed there for five weeks and I waited until I was cast in something here, and then I had a reason to come back. So I’d say probably the biggest difference is being an adult. In one year, I feel like I’ve become an adult.
MW: What about you? This is a really good question for Dannielle, whoever’s listening to this, because she has a really cute love story that was going on during Plus One.
DOR: Oh, man. It was during Plus One. So we wrote it when we were both in the middle of really bad relationships. And then by the time we were filming it, you were kind of in a thing with someone and I was kind of in a thing with someone. And your thing didn’t work out…
DOR: And you wrote a lot of cartoons and now you’re making a book, so that’s good. And my thing did work out, and now we’re deeply in love and we live together and it’s really cool. But it’s actually the week during Plus One… we had been kind of a thing for a month and a half or something, and it was this really weird period of time where it was the first time I was going out of town so we were separated, and according to Instagram it looked like I was getting really close with Daniela. So she was over here like, “It’s okay, it’s okay if she wants to make out with her, it’s fine, we’re not even dating.” And then I was freaking out because she was hanging out with another one of our mutual friends and I was like “It’s fine, it’s cool, we’re not dating…” and then the night that we got back from Chicago, I asked her to be my girlfriend.
MW: You settled that.
DOR: I settled that fair and square.
DOR: You were the only one who knew that we were making out for a really long time.
MW: It’s so cute. I mean, you guys were next door neighbors and then you moved upstairs together.
DOR: Yeah, exactly, we moved upstairs into one big apartment and it’s the best. Yeah both of our lives have changed a lot.
MW: I think the next thing that we write together is going to be a little bit lighter. My standup has changed immensely. When you become happy, your art just changes. And that being said, I was onstage last night and all of my material about being happy was like, bombing.
DOR: No. Really?
MW: Yeah, no one wants to hear about that. No one wants to hear me get onstage and say “I’m so happy.”
DOR: Give us one good liner from your happy standup.
MW: Well, it’s a big bit about you know when you’re in a relationship and you’re like “You don’t know how much you mean to me” “No, YOU don’t know! I care about you so much I would do anything for you.” Going back and forth with that. And it just escalates to me saying “You don’t understand! I hope you break your ankle so I can take care of you and you can see how much I love you. I hope that a kid gets dropped off on your doorstep and we can raise it together and you can see that I’m such a good person that I am in love with you. I hope that you get deathly ill and don’t die but I help you and for years I’m just taking care of you…” And it just goes through. I don’t know what it is. But people are like, cool, you’re happy, we’re at a comedy show at 7pm. Clearly we’re not relating.
DOR: Oh, no. It’s so true. What’s gonna happen now that we’re happy? Find out.
MW: Thank you, Dannielle.
DOR: Thank you, Mo-elle.